Dealing with Anger from the Elderly Parent

by Janet
(Richmond, VA)

Anger and Resentment in an Elderly Parent

I have 3 sisters - two close by who have stated they do not want to help take care of our elderly father and one in another state who uses the excuse she is too far away to help. I am okay with their decision not to help. Everyone has to make this choice for themselves. I do not hold resentment towards any of them for this. I do hold resentment that they will not call or visit on a weekly basis. One never visits, the other visits maybe once a month for 15-30 minutes and the one out of state calls once a month with excuses that she means to call more often just never gets around to it.

When my father asked me to help him four years ago I willingly agreed to do what I could for him. He does not hear well nor see well. He has had colon cancer and recovered and bladder cancer and recovered although his bladder was removed. He is 84 years old and 3 years ago he almost went into a diabetic coma in his sleep. This affected his short term memory. He was sharp as a tack until this happened.

When he came home from rehab he was not himself and wanted to get rid of all his tools. I knew he could not use the tools but did not want him to give them away to strangers because I knew them meant a whole lot to him. So when he tried to give them to my husband (who did not want to take them) I told him to take them - at least I could keep them until he recovered enough and wanted them back. Four months after taking them my father started showing anger fits because he did not have his tools. I tried several times to bring them back but he refused to allow me to do that. Then he started with bursts of anger because he claimed my husband stole his tools. At that point we brought everything back to his house without telling him we were doing it. The problem was he started missing tools that we did not have. Now it has been 3 years and his anger that my husband stole his saw and miter saw is getting out of hand. We brought back the saw and miter saw he
had but in my fathers mind they are not the ones he thinks he "lent to my husband" and now he is accusing him of stealing them. The anger fits come on real quick and last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes then he calms down. The problem is that there is no reasoning with him. I have tried to tell him we would buy him a new saw but he will not hear of it. It appears that he wants to rant about this but does not want a solution. He has threatened to call the police which I have told him to go ahead and do. He has threatened to shoot my husband if he comes to his house again. Note: my husband has not been to his house in 3 years because of this except back in March when I was injured bed ridden for 3 weeks.

My Dad lost his power in a snow storm and I took him some food but fell on the ice going to work and was injured. I had no one who could do his meds (which can only be done on a daily basis so he does not take too many) or get food to him except my husband. But this created a disaster with my father because he did not want him there.

Once I was up again I took over his care. He lives alone and I am there 3 times a day. His niece lives next door and his sister lives a couple doors up the street. They keep an eye on him for any trouble but do not help with his care. I am okay with this. I just wish I knew how to handle his anger fits to me regarding my husband.

Yesterday was the worst one yet. I really thought he was going to have a stroke. I remained calm and because I would not fight back with him, it seem to make him madder.

I don't mind doing anything for him he needs but don't know how to handle his anger. I informed his doctor about all of this. He thinks that my father is very unhappy with his life, especially losing his eyesight and not being able to drive anymore, but does not want to admit it.

I am the scape goat for his anger but how do I handle it? Wish I had help in understanding this.

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Thank you Janet
by: Anonymous

My mother has become very angry and frustrated with me recently as she has been getting older.

Although I am very young (early 20s) she is nearing 70 as she had me very late and I am an only child. I have been worried about angering her, or not caring for her properly as she is not very active and does not have many friends.

I have been despairing for a long time thinking that I was an awful daughter and that I was alone in this problem. I see that it is far more common, and that it is not me.

Thank you so much for sharing your story, It has given me the push to live my own life and not get dragged down by her. I would never abandon her, but I shall not let her anger hold me back or make me feel down anymore.

Thank you so much.

Thanks to everyone
by: Janet

I appreciate all of the comments to my post. Unfortunately my husband passed away in Feb.

I took my Dad to his doctors appointment and when I returned home later that morning I found my husband passed away. I feel like my life is over. My husband was my support and my entire world. My Dad can no longer get angry about my husband who he thinks stole his tools. I won't allow him to say one bad thing against someone who was the kindest person I ever knew. He knows I will walk away and leave him.

I no longer have the desire to fulfill my promise to my Dad to take care of him. I don't blame him but losing your partner, especially after being together 41 years, is about the hardest road I have ever traveled. No one can ever image it. It's 10 times more painful than you could even think it would be.

My husband had heart surgery on the 2nd of Nov. and was doing just great. Retaining fluid but otherwise doing okay. I had an autopsy done and he died of a cardiac arrhythmia. His doctor told me that even had I been beside him I could not have done anything to save him. You only have 6 minutes to get the heart back in rhythm then the brain dies and without the paddles it would have been impossible.

My heart aches so much that I can barely stand it. I must have said 1,000 times to my husband that we would go and do this or that when I no longer have to take care of Dad. I have learned a very valuable lesson in the worst possible way.

Never put off what you want to do. Find help so you can still live your own life. God I wish I had done that.

Another Problem?
by: Anonymous

While the quandary of which you wrote is truly sad, it is all too common in today's world. Have you considered the possibility that your father has developed a new problem...Alzheimer's or senility? If so, he may need more care than you can provide for him at his home.

What is going to happen when he decides to use some of the tools and equipment that he has? He could seriously injure himself or someone else.

It sounds as if you have done about all the you can do for your dad without putting yourself or your marriage in jeopardy. Talk to your other responsible family members (by e-mail, phone or face to face) and make a joint decision about what options your father has. He could be included in the discussion if he is rational.

Make a plan and then execute it without guilt. Most parents do not intend to be a burden on their children. It happens so slowly that no one notices it until it is too late.

Getting old is not for sissies. If your dad does not have serious mental deterioration, then he just may be angry that he does not see, hear, remember, move or feel as well as he used to...especially if he used to enjoy doing things for others in the family and the community that he can no longer do.

I hope that you and your father will find some peace. This is a beautiful and bountiful planet that we live on and we should spend as much time enjoying it as possible and as little time as necessary worrying about things that we cannot control.

Dealing With ANGRY Parent...
by: Anonymous

I have a situation with my mother that I live with temporarily. I get along with her for the most part. She is able to do for herself but is ANGRY that she no longer can drive. She blames EVERYONE..they are out to get her.

Basically the same as the previous issues on this article. I fear she may have a heart attack, stroke, or family or Doctor may intervene for evaluation at a medical facility. She can have a sweet nature to her but when something makes her ANGRY that's it..each of my siblings try and help. Take part in helping with situations that come up such as maintenance on the home, medical transportation, shopping, paying taxes on home etc.

Each sibling deals with the situation differently. Some may use force if *talking* doesn't work. Some talk trying to *reason* with her. Its sad. I don't know what to do sometimes.

Parental Anger
by: Nita

I understand what you are going through as I also face a similar situation, though not so violent. My father accuses me of everything! Somehow all his mishaps/wrong choices are MY fault.

Since he is very clear in his mind and perfect mentally, I often have a showdown with him and tell him off when it gets too unbearable. I put forward his crankiness, his bullying ways, his unreasonable expectations, his selfishness to him upfront. It is an outlet for me, but does nothing to improve the situation. He is back to his unpleasant ways in no time at all.

I guess what happens, is that they are fed up of their lives, their incapacity, their dependence and feel bitter, frustrated, and full of self-pity. The only one they can spill this on -- is the caregiver! Ironically they alienate the only one who cares and serves them. No one else really cares a damn!
Hope this helps!

by: Anonymous

I understand your anger issues with your father as my mother is doing the same things. She gets very angry if anyone does not agree with her about everything. I was just there and she told me a story about my sister, when I said that my sister could not have reacted this way she started to yell at me. I very calmly told her to not yell at me.

I think that the sad thing is she doesn't realize that if she were just nice she would have so much more company. I guess I am lucky in that my brother and sister are very supportive and we realize that we are all in this together. I think that your family should accept that they also have a responsibility to their father, whether they like it or not and you do need their help!

Elderly Parent Sibling support - Additon to First Statement
by: Janet

I would like to say that I do get support from my sister who lives out of town - even if it is just phone support. She is very good about letting me vent when things get really bad. I wish she could come and stay with him for a week but she can't. I think she can't handle my dad fussing about my husband 24/7 and she can't handle hearing the same stories over and over again. I fully understand this. You have to learn to tune out the stories and it is a lesson you learn over time.

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